Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I just couldn't resist

I read it here first, and he read it here first and it looks like we can all thank the Columbus Dispatch for such stellar reporting...however, it doesn't matter where I read it, it just matters that I laughed...and laughed. Alot.

There's always room for "Greased Up Deaf Guy":

A classic Media Day interview...

Monday, January 29, 2007

VCU is legit

I’ll keep this brief…same 10 teams, slightly different order…and a new #1:

1. Virginia Commonwealth (18-3, 10-0)
I watched this team go on the road Saturday afternoon and defeat the 2nd place team in the CAA (Drexel) 75-68. The three guard attack of B.A. Walker, Jesse Pellot-Rosa and Eric Maynor is damn impressive. It kind of makes me wonder why Jeff Capel didn't stay at least one more year?

2. Virginia Tech (16-5, 6-1)
The Hokies did nothing to warrant the drop, it's just VCU is too impressive not to be #1 this week. Va Tech continues to win on the road in the ACC and needs to do it again at BC this week (and not slip up against a hurting NC State club).

3. George Washington (15-4, 6-1)
I still think the A-10 blows. But GW appears to be the best of all those crappy teams. One of which is coached by Travis Ford. UMass I think. Terrible UMass/Charlotte game on yesterday afternoon.

4. Georgetown (15-5, 5-2)
Winning the games they are supposed to win, they now need to go on the road and beat St. John's and Louisville. Did you know Roy Hibbert is shooting 71% from the floor this year? 71%?

5. Virginia (13-6, 5-2)
I mean, did Clemson press the big red button yesterday or what? Oliver Purnell might have officially lost his kids after the second straight brutal loss. Virginia improves to 5-2 in the ACC, and they get the Dukies at home this week.

6. Maryland (16-5, 2-4)
I think Whit has a handle on the Terps:

"Meanwhile in Terp Town, things are looking bleak. Currently 2-4 in the ACC with some bad losses, they probably need to go at least 7-3 down the stretch and make some noise in the ACC tourney to get into the big'un. That 7-3 might need to include wins over Duke and UNC.

Uh, good luck with all that, Gary."

7. Loyola (Md.) (12-8, 8-2)
Still in first place in the MAAC...and they just beat Iona, making the Gaels 0-20. I just have a bad feeling Loyola's season is going downhill from here.

8. Old Dominion (14-7, 7-3)
Needs to go on the road and beat Drexel this week to have any chance of catching VCU (though it's not happening).

9. George Mason (12-8, 6-4)
Grasping...but they do get the dregs of the CAA in their next two, Delaware and UNC-Wilmington (where are you Brett Blizzard?).

10. Towson (10-11, 4-6)
Can't put the Tribe back in this slot, so I will continue to promote Gary Neal in this space. He's still 5th in the country in scoring (25.9 ppg). He has six 30 point games this year and a 40 point game. But, this is Towson we're talking about, so nobody cares.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Smallest Demographic in College Sports

Because I know 8-10 people care about this, your William and Mary Tribe faces a season-defining stretch of games beginning this weekend against Georgia State. By all rights, the Green and Gold really should win 5 of their next 6. I'm fairly certain that sentence has never been written in connection with W&M hoops. Here's the schedule:

Georgia State

After that stretch, the Tribe closes with back-to-back games against Drexel and a home finale against ODU. If Tony Shaver's boys play to their potential, an 8-10 conference record (15-13 overall) is a reasonable expectation.

Of course, this being William and Mary basketball we're discussing, I expect to close the season on a 14-game losing streak.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

GTB's Local Hoops Top 10

Last week's #1 holds serve, beating Sweaty McG and his Terps last night in overtime (though Pats/Colts distracted me from much of the collegiate action). Some legit shuffling has occurred in the soft underbelly of these rankings, where the CAA leader and a previously ignored team (by me and everyone in the greater DC area) jump up...

1. Virginia Tech (14-5, 4-1) - The loss at FSU wasn't great, but ask the Florida Gators how much fun it is to play at The Donald (L. Tucker Center). Taking Maryland down last night to get to 4-1 in the ACC is impressive, and I almost believe in these guys. Dowdell and Gordon are a pretty lethal backcourt.

2. Virginia Commonwealth (16-3, 8-0) - Seven straight Ws and an unblemished conference mark get you to #2 in this poll. VCU's next two games (at George Mason, at Drexel) could very well decide the regular season CAA champ.

3. George Washington (13-4, 4-1) - I'll admit it, I pay no attention to GW, even after their recent successes, mainly because the A-10 has sucked ever since Lamar Odom left. But GW has put themselves right in the NCAA mix again this year, and you could argue all 4 losses are quality losses (if such a thing exists).

4. Georgetown (13-5, 3-2) – Win both games last week to climb above .500 in the Big East, which is where they should be (and they SHOULD beat Rutgers and Cincy this week). Big East teams are going to kill each other all year long, but this Georgetown team has significantly underachieved and should end up a Top 3 team when the buses head to MSG.

5. Virginia (11-6, 3-2) – Nice bounceback this week, beating stumbling MD and then having RJ Reynolds "smoke" Wake for 40 yesterday. Who would've thought UVA and Va Tech would have two of the more potent backcourts in the country?

6. Maryland (15-5, 1-4) - Lucky to be #6, quite frankly. They either turn it around in the next four games, or the season is over by the time the Duke game rolls around. I really hope Gary recruits a "Padilla" to Greivis Vasquez's "Travieso".

7. Loyola (Md.) (11-7, 7-1) – Still in first place in the MAAC, which is unbelievable, since this team was 1-27 three years ago and 6-22 two years ago. And Gerald Brown continues to "score the ball" (Hi Jay Bilas!) like a madman (23.3 ppg, good for 11th in the country).

8. George Mason (11-7, 5-3) – That’s 5 straight wins now…Thomas and Campbell have really picked up their games.

9. Old Dominion (12-7, 5-3) – Two game skid drops them behind GMU…huge matchup against William and Mary Wednesday night.

10. Towson (9-10, 3-5) – Sacrificial #10 this week, as my placement of the Tribe in this spot has led to four straight losses. Plus, if I'm gonna throw love Gerald Brown's way, this poll needs to recognize Gary Neal, who is actually 4th in the nation in scoring at 25.2 ppg.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Painful Read

The SportGuy has produced one of the whiniest columns in recent memory, even for him. It's not enough to have your favorite team win, the rest of us have to really get excited with you to validate it? The world doesn't hate the Patriots, as he attests, they're just tired of them winning. It's not exciting. Get over it. Unbelievably annoying piece.

Okay, here's the game: what column will we get out of him on Monday?

- Pats lose, and we are assured to get an "it's about time" article that mentions a whole lot about how many times New England thumped Indy before.

- Pats win, and IF the Saints win we get an article about how the world wants the Saints, including the NFL and the refs, and based on that, the Patriots are the real underdogs despite what we know about the NFC.

- Pats win, Bears win, revenge for 1986, blah blah blah.

Hell, he might as well just write the articles now.

Prediction: (With a tip of the cap to the formerly funny Guy himself, does anyone else say "My prediction?...Pain." any time some asks for a prediction? I did this at work and nobody got it, naturally -- you gotta be prepared to dig yourself out with a digression really quickly. Speaking of digressions...)

Prediction: Indy 24, Pats 20
Prediction: Saints 16, Bears 9 (on a defensive touchdown)
Prediction: My prediction?...Pain.

Try it, it's fun.

Friday, January 19, 2007

GTB Friday All Skate

Wanted to pop in early this morning and thank Dan over at the DC Sports Bog for sending along my latest cubicle decoration, the Gilbert Arenas Donut poster. It replaces a 2004 wall calendar my predecessor left up and I was simply too lazy to take down. So the Agent Zero poster joins the Gheorghe autograph, the Mia Hamm autograph, the Jets coffee mug and the Khalil Greene booblehead as the only sports paraphernalia in my cube.

And here are my Brandon Lang winners this week (from yesterday's comments):
Chicago (-1) vs. New Orleans
God wants them to win. And maybe Spike Lee too. Saints.
Indy (-3) vs. New England

I'd like to see Manning win this game. Which of course means he won't. Patriots.

There is a new scourge of FM radio...an unbelievable plague infecting Top 40 stations and VH1's Top 20 countdown. I know you've encountered it, because it's impossible to avoid. It is prevalent in the work of various douchebag bands, with Hinder and The Fray being the current leaders in the clubhouse. It's what I now call "Whiny Rock", and it's highlighted (of course) by that whiny-ass tone to the song, the whiny-ass lyrics and the complete disregard for enunciating anything while you whine for 4 straight minutes. You know what I mean...roll the clips (damn it YouTube):
- Horrible, rotten whiny Fray
-- Suck-ass Hinder
I don't want to give the impression these are the only two offenders, let's also recognize these clowns:
- Nickelback
-- The All-American Rejects
I blame Grey's Anatomy for this.


This is bound to entertain Whit - I have some weekend college hoops picks for you to scrutinize, as part of my Battle for the Aggro-Crag (Full disclosure: I had never heard of this Nickelodeon show GUTS or this crazy Aggro-Crag thing before - I thought Double Dare was the only money game show on Nickelodeon). I am, however, happy to get involved in any pick 'em league run by a guy who has met OJ Simpson. Proving once again I am a terrible gambler, I went 4-4 last week, putting me squarely in the cellar...the Week 2 picks:

*LSU at Arkansas - Big Baby Davis. 28 and 14. Four fried chickens and a Coke. LSU.
*Texas at Villanova - Kevin Durant really is as good as you've heard. It's not a stretch to think he will cause Curtis Sumpter to blow out his knee for the 11th time. Texas.
*Wisconsin at Illinois - Lando Tucker will own the Illini tomorrow. Wisconsin.
*Arizona at UCLA - How have we not cannonized this Chase Buddinger kid yet? Arizona.
*Oklahoma State at Texas A&M - I hated A&M last year. Nothing's changed. Okie St.
*Boston College at Clemson - BC just had to kick two donkeys off their team, one of them being the 3rd leading shot blocker in the country. Clemson needs this win more. Clemson.

*Maryland at Virginia Tech - Maryland, consistently inconsistent. Va Tech has another solid home win in them. Va Tech.
*Marquette at Pitt - Pitt is the king of the Big East. Aaron Gray is a really big, really goofy white dude. Pitt.

Rob: The Founder of Gheorghe: The Blog here to make a cameo appearance. Since Teejay's bound and determined to get more people to come to this remote outpost, I figure it's a decent time to tell our new visitors why Gheorghe: The Blog exists. The text below is from the very first entry in these pages, born from my extremely bored mind in November 2003. Still rings true today:

"Mission Statement, or What's a Gheorghe, and Why Should I Care?

I don't trust anyone that can't laugh at himself. I think that Crash Davis was dead on, right up until he started talking about Susan Sontag, at which point I tuned out. I'm hopelessly addicted to the Boston Red Sox, even though I know it's not good for me. I believe that sports, like society at large, is full of self-important, egomaniacal windbags at all levels, and I intend to use this space to tilt at the windmills that threaten to suck all of the joy out of the things that I love.

This space is named, with love, for the most fun athlete ever to draw a paycheck from a professional franchise. Gheorghe Muresan, late of the Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets, stood 7'7" and weighed 330+ pounds. He shuffled around a basketball court like a slightly more mobile version of Frankenstein's monster, with a splay-footed gait and elbows and knees that flailed about as if independently operated. His elongated, comically expressive face conveyed the unmistakable glee and amazement with which he viewed his place in the NBA’s firmament, even as he made the often numbing journey from rookie to veteran. He played a handful of NBA seasons with a modicum of success, being honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player in 1997-98. Most importantly, though, he played basketball and approached life with a pure, unadulterated joy that was, and is, unmatched by any other professional athlete.

Gheorghe's spirit and the joy with which he appears to approach life offer lessons for all of us about the important things. This space will celebrate those in sports and elsewhere that live with Gheorgheness, and skewer those that think they are more important than the game - be it sports or life. Gheorghe: The Internet Magazine, had a brief, meteoric run several years ago, flaming to earth in a blaze of apathy amidst rampant rumors of financial mismanagement. Gheorghe: The Blog rises like a phoenix from the ashes, or at least like a Weeble, to carry on the Gheorghian mission."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Because I'm already sick of the Brady/Manning Slurpfest

Just 29 days until pitchers and catchers report...

Morning Update: This week's local hoops Top 10

1. Virginia Tech (13-4, 3-0) - You beat Carolina and Duke in the same week, you get to be the new local #1. Plus, Deron Washington's hair is awesome.

2. Maryland (15-3, 1-2) - Look miserable against Miami, be the first team to beat Clemson this year. I'll say one thing about Gary's team - it's consistently inconsistent.

3. Georgetown (11-5, 1-2) - Not a good week for Hoya nation. The home loss to Villanova was a real killer. Someone tell Jeff Green it's OK to show up for two games in a row.

4. Virginia Commonwealth (14-3, 6-0) - Honestly, VCU should probably be ahead of Georgetown, but I guess I have some sort of "mid-major" bias. Just don't tell Jay Bilas.

5. George Washington (11-4, 2-1) - Man, the A-10 is a joke...but at least GW always has several candidates for the all-name team.

6. Virginia (9-6, 1-2) - Let the freefall in Charlottesville begin.

7. Old Dominion (12-5, 5-1) - CAA owns this poll. VCU, ODU, William and Mary and George Mason all staying in the Top 10 this week. And ODU happens to have as many Big East wins as Georgetown.

8. Loyola (Md.) (9-7, 5-1) - Gotta be the surprise of the MAAC, right? Guard Gerald Brown is 11th nationally in scoring at 23.4 ppg.

9. William and Mary (10-6, 3-3) - Barely hanging on to their spot in the Top 10 after reverting to the Tribe of old this week. But you're nuts if you think I'm dropping my alma mater off this list.

10. George Mason (9-7, 3-3) - Winners of three in a row, Mason looks to finish the CAA schedule strong and make some noise in Richmond.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

GTB's NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

Thank goodness for 4:30 games...and a work laptop that steals my neighbors' wireless...and of course YouTube, without which I could not get my Bronson Pinchot fix (spreads courtesy of covers.com).

Baltimore (-4) vs. Indianapolis:
"They're not saying Boo, they're saying Moovers." Actually Peyton, they're saying both today. And despite the fact that I am actually a Manning apologist and think he gets way too much blame for their playoff failings (yes, he deserves some blame, but take a look, it's not as atrocious as some may have you believe), I simply can't pick his Colts to win the game today. And frankly, that's a killer (no pun...fuck it, pun intended), because I hate Ray Lewis and hence hate the Ravens (like the fine fans below). Unfortunately for Peyton, there will be no ground game to help him, he's bound to get picked by Ed Reed at least once, and Steve McNair/Jamal Lewis are just healthy and competent enough to put 20+ points on the board. RAVENS.

New Orleans (-5) vs. Philadelphia:
Ah yes, do I pick based on the media story I am most excited to see, namely Jeff "Serge" Garcia leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl (failing to win of course), causing Mrs. McNabb to attempt a hit and run on him with the Chunky Soup promotional bus? Or do I make the pick the media is dying to see, namely the Saints making the Super Bowl, thus "saving" the city? Well, I'm taking the Saints in this one, but don't put me in the "football can save a city" camp. I was in NO not too long ago, and I don't care if Drew Brees and the Saints won the next 5 Super Bowls, that town is still a fucking mess. A well-rested, multi-dimensional Saints offense duplicates the regular season result, with a major hat tip to the most excited/emotional crowd of the weekend. At least Garcia made himself a ton of money in the last 2 months, and can pretend the Cleveland and Detroit stints never happened. SAINTS.

Chicago (-9.5) vs. Seattle:
I think we all know where I stand on this one (or at least what a gay I am for liking "Chicago the Musical"). Rex Grossman and the Bears have a cakewalk tomorrow afternoon, facing a Seahawks team that shouldn't even be in this game, save for Tony Romo and some slick balls (that reminds me, I'm really gonna miss Drew B's contributions on tonyhomo.com). I realize the Bears haven't won a home playoff game in 17 years, but that drought ends today, and there ain't nothing Hasselback or Alexander can do about it. Plus, I'm pretty sure the Seahawks D couldn't stop Balki and Cousin Larry at this point. BEARS.

San Diego (-5) vs. New England:
I realize it ALMOST seems insane to bet against Brady and Belichick in the playoffs, especially after their strong performance against a feisty Jets team last week, but that's the way I'm leaning. Factor in Marty and the "Rivers against a Belichick defense" variables, and this pick might make it seem like I'm already drinking, but I haven't cracked a cerveza yet. I simply think the Chargers D (sorry, no "juiced up" jokes from me) and LdT will overpower a suspect NE offensive line and average defense. And before you jump on me for questioning the Pats D, realize Chadwick and that Jets offense went up and down the field last week in NE, and the Chargers offense leaves the Jets' facedown in the gutter (but it's OK Marty, we still think your boy Brian did a good job with what he had). I don't know if this is the year Marty actually sheds the playoff choker label, but he's one game closer after this week. CHARGERS.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bears/Seahawks Preview, brought to you by Kander and Ebb

The name on everybody's lips
Is gonna be...REXY

The QB raking in the chips
Is gonna be...REXY

I'm gonna be a celebrity
That means
Somebody everyone knows

They're gonna recognize my eyes
My hair my teeth my internet booze pics

From just some dumb Florida QB
I'm gonna be...REXY
Who says that QBing's not an art?

And who in case he doesn't hang
Can say he started with a bang?


They're gonna wait outside in line
To get to see...

Think of those autographs
I'll sign,
"Good luck to ya,"...REXY

And I'll appear
In a game that goes
All the way down to the wire

Here a pass,
There a pass,
Everywhere a-screen-pass

But always in the best of taste!

[Mmmm, I'm a star
And the fans love me
And I love them
And they love me for loving them
And I love them for loving me
And we love each other
And that's because none of us
Got enough love in our childhoods
And that's football

He's given up his hum drum life

I'm gonna be sing it...REXY

He made a scandal every start

And Tom Brady will shit
I know
To see his name get billed below


Thursday, January 11, 2007

I hope it's a cut off Coconut Banger's Ball

Best. Super Bowl Ad. Ever. Looks like Emerald Nuts is the leader for best (and most anticipated) 2007 Super Bowl ad (at least around this blogosphere - Hi Greg!). Diamond Foods has paid $2 million dollars to inject professionally trained voiceman Robert Goulet into our lives on Super Bowl Sunday, if only for 30 seconds. Maybe we'll be getting his brothers involved for a stirring rendition of "Red Ships of Spain"?

"Hello, I'm Robert Goulet...I know one thing we can agree on...when a professional gets his mitts on a Super Bowl ad that's when it really takes off... "

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fun Facts About Our Hero

Some Gheorghe trivia:

"Although Gheorghe Muresan is, to date, the tallest player in the history of the NBA, his record was at risk in the late 1990's, when North Korean player Michael Ri (7'8") was attempting to make it to the NBA. Ri's attempts were eventually stifled by the Trading with the Enemy Act, and Ri never played basketball in the NBA."

How about that? Just like My Giant ruined our pal Ghiţă, a Julia Roberts movie ruined his North Korean nemesis.

Extra! Extra!

Baseball Hall of Fame to Mark McGwire: "How would you like to suck our balls, Mr. McGwire?"

Monday, January 08, 2007

A little late to the party...

Each week, the DC Sports Bog has been doing a local college hoops poll, and each week I simply forget to turn in my ballot by the noon Monday deadline. Well not this week folks - the William and Mary Tribe have inspired me to get my votes in this week, mainly because W&M never gets any hoops pub but deserves some love this week (more on that in a moment). On to this week's rankings...

1. Maryland (14-2, 0-1)
Apparently, the Terps have joined the MAAC, beating Siena and Iona in their last two games. Quick, most famous Iona alum? Jeff Ruland. The Terps are #1 by default this week, but another key win or two by the Hoyas or the Hokies (yes, the Hokies) and Maryland drops. By my count, they've beaten two decent teams and lost to the two best teams they've played. They're the Notre Dame of college hoops - though I'm sure Strawberry and Vasquez could've covered LSU's wide receivers better.

2. Georgetown (11-3, 1-0)
Saturday's thrashing of Notre Dame at the phone booth is a good start for this team, but the three early season losses keep them from claiming the #1 slot. For teams that miss out on Greg Oden in next year's draft, I would take a long hard look at Roy Hibbert. He's really starting to display an all-around game fit for the next level. I will be at the Georgetown/Villanova game tonight courtesy of Dennis and his employer, and the Hoyas should win this one handily. I look forward to berating Mike Nardi all night.

3. Virginia Tech (11-4, 2-0)
Huge win, huge win, for Seth Greenberg's crew over Duke Saturday. Makes up for that Sean Dockery traveshamockery last year. And forget the Duke lacrosse case - I think Greg Paulus should press assault charges after that posterization by Deron Washington (plus Washington blocked his game-winning attempt). The wins over Iowa and ODU help the Hokies' cause, and their game in a week against Carolina could get VT the #1 slot.

4. Virginia (9-4, 1-0)
Yikes, crushing loss at home to Stanford yesterday. The wins over Arizona to start the year and Gonzaga a week ago had the Cavs primed for a jump before yesterday. Good luck playing at soon-to-be-#1 UNC Wednesday night. By the way, is it a rule that Stanford must always have a set of twins on their team (this year it's 7' twins Brook and Robin Lopez)?

5. Virginia Commonwealth (11-3, 3-0)
CAA represent in this week's rankings. Not exactly a glowing resume for VCU, but they are tied atop the competitive CAA, and honestly, who the hell has George Washington beaten to be ahead of them? No one, that's who.

6. George Washington (10-3, 1-0)
Again, this team has beaten absolutely no one. I'm not even sure they should stay in the Top 10, but when you look at the dregs left (sorry Howard, Richmond, VMI, etc.) I guess I'll cut Karl and his boys some slack. By the way, Carl Elliot is the Jess Settles of the A-10.

7. Old Dominion (10-4, 3-0)
Solid team so far this year, with all 4 losses being what Jay Bilas would consider "quality losses". I think we're looking at the CAA winner (over VCU and Drexel) and potential 1st round sleeper come March. I like the inside-out combination of Lithuanian Valdas Vasylius and guards Brian Henderson and Drew Williamson.

8. William and Mary (9-4, 2-1)
Ah yes, the darlings of this week's ranking. From NR to 8th today...that's what six straight wins will do for you, including a road defeat of George Mason in that span. This is the best team Williamsburg has seen since my senior year. That team went on to win 20, and of course lost in the 1st round of the CAA tourney. Beat Georgia State tonight and it's the second best CAA start in school history. It's a shame MASN or Comcast don't air more Tribe games, because the whitewash that is their starting line-up is startling. There's enough gangly white kids on the floor at all times you'd think you were watching a YMCA pick-up game. One other thing...William and Mary coach Tony Shaver: Hitler, Craig Escherick or state trooper?

9. Loyola (Md.) (7-6, 3-1)
A little more love for the MAAC. Beat Siena tomorrow night and Loyola is in first place in the MAAC, which I think is shocking. Plus, Navy, American and Towson belong nowhere near a list of Top 10. Loyola gets bonus points for housing my brother for part of his college education.

10. George Mason (6-7, 0-3)
I think it's very safe to say the shine is off last year's Cinderella story. If the loss to my Tribe didn't do it, the loss Saturday to ODU certainly did. In fact, they only remain on this list because I saw Jim Larranaga at last week's Dematha/St. John's game.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The McSorley assault obviously affected his acting skills

Well, I've got to hand it to the local news...they apparently figured out YouTube existed, and then unleashed this gem on an unsuspecting public. The spot below "stars" a pretty odd pair - WUSA 9 sports anchor Brett Haber* and current Washington Capitals enforcer Donald Brashear**. Haber long ago worked at SportsCenter and unsuccessfully hosted Z104's morning show a few years back. Brashear of course is well known for taking McSorley's stick to his skull and bouncing off the ice a bit. Donald also happens to rank 35th on the all-time penalty minutes list (McSorley is 4th on that list and Swint's boy and public menace Bob Probert is 5th). The real crime in this poor imitation of an ESPN promo or Terry Tate commercial is NOT the acting (hard to believe I know) - it's the fact WUSA and Haber have another promo, a much better promo, starring who else but Gheorghe Muresan. Let's get that baby on YouTube.

* Brett Haber does not enjoy being handed dollar bills for touchscreen video trivia games at an empty sports bar, especially not when he is conversing with fellow local sports anchor Dave Feldman.
**Donald Brashear is an accomplished pianist.